Thirty years ago, I was a in eighth grade at Dry Prong Jr. HIgh. As it happened, I was home sick on a cold January day. Mom told me to lie down on the couch with my book. (something by John Jakes I think) The television was on and it was airing the live broadcast of the Space Shuttle Challenger lift-off. Mom went off to do something and I went back to my book. The announcers counted down, the lift-off happened and I glanced at the television. A minute later, I heard the announcers say that something was wrong. I yelled for Mom, she came in and we watched as bits and pieces of shuttle floated back to earth. This was WAY before the internet and we didn’t have twenty-four hour news in Dry Prong yet, so we stayed glued to NBC. Mom went to the kitchen to call dad and tell him and we continued to watch to get any news that we could. It was such an awful feeling knowing that you just watched seven people die on live television. The image of those solid rocket boosters going in opposite directions and debris floating in the clear blue sky, is something that sticks with you and for every launch after that, I would always wait for Mission Control to give the command “Go at throttle up” and breathe a sigh of relief once that moment passed. I can’t believe that it’s been 30 years, but I can remember like it was yesterday. I don’t think I will ever forget President Reagan’s touching tribute to the astronauts and his eloquence at trying to put into words what many felt. I still get chills and a lump in my throat when I listen to it. Every one of these astronauts, as well as the ones who came before, and the ones who came after are heroes and should be remembered.
Francis R. Scobee – Mission Commander
Michael J. Smith – Pilot
Ellison S. Onizuka – Mission Specialist 1
Judith A. Resnik – Mission Specialist 2
Ronald E. McNair – Mission Specialist 3
Christa McAuliffe – Payload Specialist 1, Teacher in space
Gregory B. Jarvis – Payload Specialist 2
I was living and working in Houston at the time. I remember the day in bits and pieces, though. It was just that overwhelming.